ShareThis Page

'Ghosts of Pittsburgh' scaring up a good time at the Oaks

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
Haydn Thomas points to the old Allegheny County jail in downtown Pittsburgh, the setting for some of his ghost stories.
Haydn Thomas points to the old Allegheny County jail in downtown Pittsburgh, the setting for some of his ghost stories.

Haydn Thomas enjoys telling a good ghost story, especially this time of year during “haunting season.”

His presentation, “An Evening with the Ghosts of Pittsburgh,” is filled with tales of ghostly sightings in and around Pittsburgh involving historical figures, sports heroes and everyday people, and well-known places, such as the old Allegheny County jail and the Monongahela Incline downtown, where apparitions have been reported.

Apparently people are dying to get into his program at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont.

Thomas, of Munhall, has sold out five performances in October – including shows scheduled for 7 and 10 p.m. Oct. 12 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26. A sixth “late-night final encore presentation” has been added for 10:30 p.m. Oct. 26.

Ghostly sightings

He says Pittsburgh is a hotbed of ghostly sightings.

“We’ve got 17 different stories, in various degrees of creepiness and the number of ghosts,” he says, stories about Henry Clay Frick, the premonitions surrounding the death of Pirates’ great Roberto Clemente, the 1969 murder of labor leader Joseph Albert “Jock” Yablonski and more.

Thomas is part of a small company, Haunted Pittsburgh, which also offers Haunted Downtown Pittsburgh Walking Tours that begin at the City-County Building on Grant Street.

He got into the business of leading haunted tours after visiting similar destinations in other countries, such as “Hitler’s Munich” tour in Germany and a “Jack the Ripper” tour in London, one of his favorite excursions for its “combination of history and creepiness.”

Thomas earned a master’s degree in history from Thiel College, worked as a teacher and for General Motors in West Mifflin before joining Haunted Pittsburgh.

Knack for storytelling

“I found out I have a knack for it,” he says of his storytelling skills, and since he’s been leading tours, “everybody comes up to me and tells me their story.”

Asked whether he believes in ghosts, he says he feels that people are convinced when they’ve seen what they perceive as spirits.

“I hear the sincerity in their voices and see the fear in their eyes,” he says. “Over the years they’ve convinced me that not everybody is crazy.”

Timothy Murray and Michelle Smith, co-owners of the Haunted Pittsburgh tour company, and Thomas, principal ghost guide, co-authored a book, “Haunted Pittsburgh,” which delves into the tales that connect the region to the spirit world.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me